WBEZ | Rahm Emanuel http://www.wbez.org/tags/rahm-emanuel Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CPS, Emanuel warn of deep cuts, layoffs to school district http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing &ldquo;a grand bargain&rdquo; to fix the financial woes of Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>The proposal cuts $200 million from schools, raises property taxes, asks teachers to pay more into their pensions, and pushes Springfield to increase overall school funding.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody would have to give up something, and nobody would have to give up everything,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s proposal came as state lawmakers were entertaining a bill from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton that would freeze property taxes and eliminate grants currently promised to CPS in exchange for picking up about $200 million of the cash-strapped school district&rsquo;s &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension costs over the next two years.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union doesn&rsquo;t support Emanuel&rsquo;s plan and also scoffed at his longstanding push to consolidate the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund with the Teachers Retirement System, which includes all suburban and downstate teachers, and is equally underfunded. Currently, Chicago taxpayers pay into both CTPF and TRS, something Emanuel calls &ldquo;inequitable.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Cuts will hit classrooms, special education and start times</span></p><p>Emanuel and CPS officials said schools will start on time this fall, but not without deep cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>District officials are still in the process of developing the budget for next school year, but CPS Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/270216697/CPS-reducing-expenses-by-200-Million" target="_blank">outlined</a> the following cuts they&rsquo;ve already determined they&rsquo;ll make:</p><ul><li>Eliminate 5,300 coaching stipends for elementary school sports. ($3.2 million);</li><li>Change magnet school transportation by having students report to local attendance area school to be picked up. ($2.3 million);</li><li>Shift start times for some high schools back 45 minutes. ($9.2 million);</li><li>Eliminate 200 vacant special education positions. ($14 million);</li><li>Cut startup funding for charters and alternative schools. ($15.8 million);</li><li>Reduce professional development in turnaround schools run by AUSL ($11.6 million).</li></ul><p>&ldquo;In my view, they&rsquo;re intolerable, they&rsquo;re unacceptable and they&rsquo;re totally unconscionable,&rdquo; Emanuel said of the cuts. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re a result of a political system that sprung a leak and now it&rsquo;s a geyser.&rdquo;</p><p>The cuts do not solve the district&rsquo;s pension problems. Late Tuesday, just before the deadline, the school district paid its full pension payment, a hefty sum of $634 million, for 2015. But that payment was only to close out last year&rsquo;s budget. The Emanuel administration has already asked the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund to push $500 million of the required 2016 payment to 2017.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Where will the revenue come from?</span></p><p>Chicago Public Schools officials and Emanuel find themselves in the middle of a delicate dance with Springfield: They take every opportunity to blame Springfield for the financial mess the district is in, but at the same time look for lawmakers to bail them out.</p><p>If Springfield doesn&rsquo;t go along with Emanuel&rsquo;s idea to merge all teacher pensions into a single fund, he wants them to contribute the &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension cost, which amounts to about $200 million annually.</p><p>This portion of his plan coincides with a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB0316sam001&amp;GA=99&amp;SessionId=88&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=84277&amp;DocNum=0316&amp;GAID=13&amp;Session=" target="_blank">bill</a> that&rsquo;s currently floating around Springfield. Senate President John Cullerton sponsored an amendment that would kick in that annual &ldquo;normal cost,&rdquo; and also freezes property taxes for two years. Cullerton says it&rsquo;s his attempt to compromise with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who&rsquo;s advocated freezing property taxes. The bill would also require the state to create a task force to overhaul Illinois&rsquo; school funding formula.</p><p>Cullerton&rsquo;s bill made it through its first legislative hurdle with only Democratic support, but Cullerton said he&rsquo;d continue working with Republicans to get bipartisan support.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s that thing Chicagoans have been waiting to hear details about: A property tax hike. Emanuel said without Springfield&rsquo;s help on teacher pension funding, he will restore the CPS pension levy to the pre-1995 tax rate of .26 percent. Emanuel estimates that would bring in around $175 million.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t easily go to taxpayers, but part of a solution is you&rsquo;re willing to give up things you don&rsquo;t support, in an effort to get other things you think are essential to a solution,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>Emanuel said he will also ask teachers to contribute the full 9 percent to cover their own pension costs. He said he will also put the city&rsquo;s block grants on the table, in exchange for the state to increase education funding by up to 25 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">How we got here</span></p><p>These pension problems stem from 15 years of neglect and mismanagement at CPS and the city.</p><p>From 1995 to 2004, CPS did not make a single payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, and instead used revenues to pay for operations. From 2011 to 2013, the school district got a &ldquo;pension holiday&rdquo; that temporarily shrunk payments, but didn&rsquo;t make a dent in the unfunded liabilities.</p><p>Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said the district should be &ldquo;front and center taking blame&rdquo; for &ldquo;using the pension system very much like a credit card, running up debt and deferring payment of it until now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The City of Chicago has known that more money was going to have to go into the pension systems in 2015,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They had four and a half years to plan for it and they did nothing.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel disputes that he&rsquo;s been putting the pension problem off, telling reporters Wednesday that over the past few years, &ldquo;we negotiated with the laborers and municipal fund, we negotiated with police and fire and we negotiated with park district employees and reached pension agreements and passed a number of them...so I would slightly beg to differ the characterization that we were passive.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Martire didn&rsquo;t place all of the blame at the mayor&rsquo;s feet. He said state lawmakers are equally at fault for not contributing to Chicago teachers&rsquo; pensions, like they once promised and by generally underfunding public schools.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When you have such significant underfunding from the state, the mayoral administrations and the administrations of the CPS are going to look to beg, borrow and steal,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And just simply write an IOU into the system saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll pay you back someday at compounded interest.&rsquo; And someday has arrived.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Tony Arnold contributed to this story from Springfield.</em></p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">A timeline of CPS pension problems</span></p><p><strong>1981</strong> &ndash; Chicago Board of Education starts picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution, in exchange for no salary raises.</p><p><strong>1995</strong> &ndash; Illinois General Assembly gives control of the city&rsquo;s public schools to Chicago&rsquo;s mayor and agrees to let CPS manage the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The dedicated pension levy is eliminated and for 10 years, CPS doesn&rsquo;t pay anything into the Fund, instead using revenue that should have been earmarked for pensions on other things, like operations, new school expansion and staff raises.</p><p><strong>2005</strong> &ndash; Chicago Teachers Pension Fund &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 79 percent.</p><p><strong>2006</strong> &ndash; Board starts making payments into CTPF again.</p><p><strong>2008</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; Stock market crashes, dropping the Fund&rsquo;s &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; even further.</p><p><strong>2010</strong> &ndash; CPS CEO Ron Huberman gets a pension holiday from Springfield. From 2011-2013, CPS is only required to pay $200 million year &ndash; instead of $600 million &ndash; pushing ballooning payments to 2014.</p><p><strong>2012</strong> &ndash; The &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 53.9 percent.</p><p><strong>2014</strong> - $612.7 million payment</p><p><strong>2015</strong> - $634 million payment</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_76159" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/270216697/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 Contract talks break down between Chicago teachers and city http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_2459.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Contract talks between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education ended Thursday with no agreement in sight, union officials say.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said the union&rsquo;s latest proposal was cost neutral&mdash;no annual raises, no cost-of-living increases&mdash;but did ask the Board to continue picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very clear that they have a serious fiscal issue,&rdquo; Lewis told reporters. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re willing to work within that.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis said the proposal would&rsquo;ve been a one-year deal that would have eliminated some paperwork and excessive standardized tests.</p><p>But the Board apparently didn&rsquo;t bite.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement that he&rsquo;s encouraged &ldquo;both sides finally acknowledge that CPS is in a fiscal crisis and lacks the resources to provide additional compensation.&rdquo;</p><p>He urged CTU leadership to come back to the bargaining table.</p><p>According to the union&rsquo;s lawyer, Robert Bloch, there are no bargaining meetings scheduled.</p><p>CPS officials could not be immediately reached to comment on the latest proposals, but the district has so far not commented on the most recent round of negotiations.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The current teachers&rsquo; contract is set to expire next Tuesday.</p></p> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/contract-talks-break-down-between-chicago-teachers-and-city-112257 Chicago moves closer to borrowing $1.1 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-closer-borrowing-11-billion-112195 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmfile.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The cash-strapped city of Chicago is one step closer to borrowing $1.1 billion in general obligation bonds, in an attempt to shore up the city&rsquo;s finances. The complex borrowing package, backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, passed through the city&rsquo;s Finance Committee Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">Pitched as a way to &ldquo;clean up&rdquo; the city&rsquo;s balance sheet and move away from unsustainable financial practices of the past, the bonds would convert some of the city&rsquo;s short-term debt into longer-term, fixed-rate debt, pay down city settlements, and refinance old terminated interest rate &ldquo;swaps,&rdquo; &nbsp;among other things.</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s new Chief Financial Officer&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2015/may/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-carole-l--brown-as-city-of-chicago-chie.html">Carole Brown</a> told aldermen Monday that it would be &ldquo;irresponsible&rdquo; for the city not to sign off on this borrowing plan.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is not kicking the can, this is not shuffling the deck chairs, this is a real step toward doing what I think all of you are committed to doing, and that you want to see us do, which is return to a state of more fiscal stability,&rdquo; Brown said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">According to Brown, the borrowing package is both part of the financial plan Emanuel pitched last spring, and a reaction to the recent credit rating downgrade by Moody&rsquo;s. Brown said the city is &ldquo;technically in default&rdquo; and &ldquo;there would be the potential that we would have to come up with close to $900 million to pay back the banks if we did not execute this transaction.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s plan for the $1.1 billion includes:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$170 million for the first two years of interest</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$151 million will be used to convert variable rate general obligation bonds into fixed rate bonds</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$192 million will be spent to end &ldquo;swaps&rdquo;</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">$35 million will be used for the 2015 loan payment for the old Michael Reese hospital site</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr">Many aldermen were skeptical of the plan. Some voiced concern that there weren&rsquo;t enough diverse banks or firms involved in the deal. Others, like Ald. John Arena (45) were concerned that the city hasn&rsquo;t put forth any new revenue ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We get fines here and fees here, we know it&rsquo;s not enough. Everybody knows it&rsquo;s not enough but ignores this issue. And when we have 1.1 billion dollars put in front of us, and say &lsquo;approve this&rsquo; without at least a look at a plan for revenue at this point...this is irresponsible,&rdquo; Arena said.</p><p dir="ltr">The lone no vote was cast by progressive Ald. Scott Waguespack. The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the package Wednesday.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-closer-borrowing-11-billion-112195 CPS acknowledges errors, takes steps to count dropouts correctly http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-acknowledges-errors-takes-steps-count-dropouts-correctly-112180 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CurieHighSchool_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago school officials are taking steps to make sure dropouts aren&rsquo;t being mislabeled to make the city&rsquo;s graduation rates look better.</p><p dir="ltr">The action comes after WBEZ and the Better Government Association <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">reported widespread problems</a> in how student were being classified when they left high school. Thousands were labeled as leaving the city, but then supposedly enrolled in GED programs. State law and policy dictate that students who leave districts to go to GED programs are dropouts.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;CPS is committed to ensuring the accuracy of our data, and we are taking four additional concrete steps to further guarantee the integrity of our data,&rdquo; Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz said in an email sent late Wednesday.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163" target="_blank"><strong>Related: Emanuel touts bogus graduation rates</strong></a></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Those steps are: doing random spot checks of all school transfer data; making principals sign a document taking full responsibility for making sure transfers are, in fact, real transfers; requiring school staff to attend trainings, and referring any questionable activity to the law department and the district&rsquo;s inspector general.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools Inspector General Nicholas Schuler first looked into the problem and <a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2014_AnnualReport.pdf">reported wrongdoing</a> in January.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Two high schools had been improperly coding students as transfers to GED programs,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Schuler also found large groups of students were listed as &ldquo;transferred to Mexico,&rdquo; but records didn&rsquo;t include the name or address of any school.</p><p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Schuler said his office plans to investigate the problem across all 140 high schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to hopefully determine the extent of the problem and find out just where responsibility lies for those problems,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re sort of hamstrung to some degree by the size of our office, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean we won&rsquo;t do it. It just might take a little longer than it would if we had more people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Schuler&rsquo;s office gets hundreds of thousands of reports of fraud every year. He couldn&rsquo;t say exactly how many dealt with bad data.</p><p dir="ltr">The WBEZ and Better Government Association looked at only 25 of 140 high schools -- the ones with the largest numbers of students removed from the graduation rate calculation. A request is pending for the remaining 115. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The errors at that small sampling of schools would lower the publicly reported graduation rate from 69.4 percent to about 67 percent. It is a conservative estimate and would likely be lowered further when all schools are factored in.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the errors in the underlying data, CPS Chief of Accountability John Barker insists the graduation rate is even higher than it&rsquo;s been reported and will continue to be.</p><p dir="ltr">Elaine Allensworth, executive director of University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research said, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s always doubt about what the exact number is, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the trends in graduation rates aren&rsquo;t real.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, district officials and researchers don&rsquo;t dispute the fact the data is riddled with errors.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>. Sarah Karp is a reporter for the <a href="http://www.bettergov.org/">Better Government Association</a>. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/sskedreporter">@SSKedreporter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 16:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-acknowledges-errors-takes-steps-count-dropouts-correctly-112180 Emanuel pushes Springfield for changes to police, fire pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long said a property tax increase for Chicago residents is the &ldquo;last resort&rdquo; to cover a scheduled increase in payments owed to the city&rsquo;s cash-strapped police and fire pensions.</p><p>To avoid a hike, he&rsquo;s asking Illinois state legislators to approve changes to the funding schedule for those two retirement funds - in addition to adding future payments to the pensions from a new source of revenue created by a potential new, city-owned casino.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s administration says that a 5-year-old state law forces the city to pay an extra $600 million this year toward its cash-strapped retirement funds for police officers and firefighters.</p><p>Those pensions are severely under-funded, so Emanuel wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would put off those payments for a few years - in exchange for later adding larger payments and putting the pensions on a better funding schedule over the next 40 years, rather than the current 25-year plan.</p><p>Under the extended schedule, the pensions would be funded at 90 percent in 2055, rather than the current rates of around 25 percent funded. If the bill is not passed, said Steve Koch, Emanuel&rsquo;s deputy mayor, then property taxes could skyrocket.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is always a matter of, in this sort of situation, of trying to reach a medium,&rdquo; Koch explained, &ldquo;where you protect the funds, which has been an objective of ours and an objective of the mayor since he took office, and equally protect taxpayers.&rdquo;</p><p>But Republicans criticized Emanuel&rsquo;s plan, saying the mayor&rsquo;s office is in a &ldquo;fantasyland,&rdquo; -- because the bill says it would take money from a Chicago casino, or casinos, to pay for pensions. Casinos that, as of yet, have not been approved by state lawmakers.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re essentially in a fantasyland here, assuming that you&rsquo;re going to get a casino and all the revenue associated with that casino, with us not even seeing a bill that relates to that,&rdquo; said State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).</p><p>Lawmakers have been negotiating a gambling expansion bill behind closed doors, which could include a city-run casino; but so far a compromise has not been introduced to lawmakers. Koch said that if a casino is not approved, then the city would rely on cuts to city services or increases in fees or revenues to pay for the administration&rsquo;s proposed pension bill.</p><p>Meantime, the union representing Chicago firefighters, support the administration&rsquo;s pension plan, unlike other labor unions raising recent court challenges over previous efforts to change other city and state funds</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been pretty conservative with our benefits over the years, so we don&rsquo;t pull no shenanigans in our fund,&rdquo; said Dan Fabrizio, with the Chicago Firefighters Union.</p><p>The measure was approved by the House and Senate with mostly Democratic support. Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s office has not commented on his position on the bill.</p><p>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 30 May 2015 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 Emanuel says no 'three-strike rule' over parks for Riot Fest http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/riot fest flickr.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It looks like Riot Fest has a new home in Chicago.</p><p>Aldermen involved in the back and forth over the music festival&rsquo;s location said that after three years in Humboldt Park, the punk and rock music festival will move this year a few miles away in Douglas Park.</p><p>Many Chicagoans were unhappy with the condition of the West Side park after last summer&rsquo;s festival. Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26) said residents of Humboldt Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining to him about the state of the grounds ever since concert-goers and organizers left.</p><p>&ldquo;Four Sundays ago...two of the diamonds were unusable for the opening games of the softball league,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;The impact to the local economy, although it was substantial the first and second year, the third year it wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>So for now, Riot Fest is taking its party elsewhere. In a statement, Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn said he met with Ald. George Cardenas (12) about using Douglas Park and was, &ldquo;ecstatic&rdquo; at the response he got from their new aldermanic partner.</p><p>&ldquo;We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the resident,&rdquo; Petryshyn said. &ldquo;Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.&rdquo;</p><p>After Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was pleased the festival chose to stay in the city, but issued a warning to organizers: Leave Douglas Park the way you find it.</p><p>&ldquo;They now know the people of Humboldt Park don&rsquo;t want them, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s in their best interest to have a second park say &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t want you&rsquo; in Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters. &ldquo;So they&rsquo;ve been put on notice to be a better citizen in holding this festival because if you go 0-for-2, we don&rsquo;t have a three-strike rule in the city of Chicago for you.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Cardenas said the Park District is set to put down a bond as insurance in the event Douglas Park sees some damage.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em>.</p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 Emanuel calls on Chicagoans to prevent 'lost generation' http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-calls-chicagoans-prevent-lost-generation-112047 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Over the last week, Chicago&rsquo;s debt was dinged by three major credit agencies. And while the city&rsquo;s pension and financial crises loom large, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose instead to kick off his second term with a speech that encourages Chicagoans to take action to prevent another &ldquo;lost generation&rdquo; of the city&rsquo;s disadvantaged youth.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s time to stop turning our heads and turning the channel,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s time for each of us to start breaking down those walls. We can&rsquo;t abandon the most vulnerable children to the gang and the gun. They have the potential and desire to be so much more.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel spoke at the Chicago Theatre, a change in venue from the previous inaugural festivities at Millennium Park. The city&rsquo;s 50 aldermen, Treasurer Kurt Summers and Clerk Susana Mendoza were also sworn in Monday.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s newest crop of politicians shared the stage with many familiar dignitaries like former Mayor Richard M. Daley and former President Bill Clinton, who received the most enthusiastic welcome from the audience; even more so than the mayor himself. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was not in attendance, though Mayor Emanuel attended his inauguration earlier this year.</p><p>Emanuel only briefly mentioned the city&rsquo;s fiscal woes during his remarks, calling the pressing pension and financial issues &ldquo;not of our making&rdquo; while his predecessor, Mayor Daley, sat just a few seats down from him on the stage.</p><p>&ldquo;Even in a time of fiscal challenges, we all need to do more for our young people who are economically and spiritually hungry,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And we must come to realize that this is not just a problem for certain communities. Anything that stunts the hope and the expectations and the opportunities for thousands of young Chicagoans undermines Chicago&rsquo;s future. &rdquo; Emanuel said.&nbsp;</p><p>The mayor went on to say that government programs are a helpful resource toward this end, but they&rsquo;re not set up to provide &ldquo;a moral compass.&rdquo; He called on Chicago residents to become role models for young people, asking all to share the &ldquo;values that made you who you are.&rdquo;</p><p>Many in the audience, including progressive aldermen who are expected to be the mayor&rsquo;s largest critics this term, were pleased with the route the mayor chose for his speech.</p><p>A new member to the council and progressive caucus, David Moore (17), said it&rsquo;s not that the mayor doesn&rsquo;t care about pensions, but that Emanuel realizes &ldquo;our youth is our most important asset.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If our youth are in trouble, then whether the pension crisis is solved or what, then Chicago is in trouble,&rdquo; Moore said.</p><p>Northside Alderman Joe Moore (49) said while it&rsquo;s true &ldquo;everyone&rdquo; was expecting to hear more about the city&rsquo;s finances, &ldquo;one issue is not necessarily to the exclusion of others.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, he added: &ldquo;Trust me, we&rsquo;re gonna spend all summer hearing a lot about finances and a lot about how serious our fiscal crisis is.&rdquo;</p><p>The new city council will meet for the first time on Wednesday.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 May 2015 15:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-calls-chicagoans-prevent-lost-generation-112047 Rauner pitches 'turnaround' agenda to Chicago aldermen http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-pitches-turnaround-agenda-chicago-aldermen-111997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerface_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner made a little history Wednesday, by becoming the first sitting governor to address City Council. In his speech to a tough crowd of pro-union aldermen, Rauner asked City Council members to be his &ldquo;partners&rdquo; in fixing both the state and city economies&mdash;but warned that there would be no bailout for the city of Chicago.</p><p>Before the governor even stepped foot inside the council chambers, aldermen and union members made sure their voices were heard.</p><p>Alderman Pat O&rsquo;Connor, floor leader for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, led the charge, calling Rauner&rsquo;s pitch for so-called right-to-work zones a &ldquo;damn shame.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Interactive: <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/rauner/" target="_blank">The Rauner Play-by-Play</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;When we talk about creating a &lsquo;right to work,&rsquo; what we&rsquo;re really creating is a right for the employer to hire at a lesser wage, to hire at lesser benefits, to hire people who will take the jobs away that we have secured through collective bargaining and to put them in the hands of individuals who have no concerns for workers,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor said, at times getting applause from union members in the council gallery.</p><p>When Rauner eventually arrived, he acknowledged the &ldquo;lions den&rdquo; he was walking into; but joked it was more like sitting down for dinner with his family, &ldquo;surrounded by Democrats with strong opinions who don&rsquo;t always agree with me.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite their differences, Rauner asked aldermen to work with him to address some of the financial burdens both the city and state face.</p><p>&ldquo;For Chicago to get what it wants, Illinois must get what it needs,&rdquo; Rauner said.</p><p>So far, what Chicago wants, or what Mayor Emanuel wants, is a list that includes assistance on pensions, a Chicago casino and, one topic Emanuel has really been pushing lately, relief for Chicago taxpayers who pay into both Chicago and suburban teacher pensions.</p><p>&ldquo;The governor rails against the anti-business environment and anti-economic, competitive environment of high taxes. I can&rsquo;t think of anything higher than two taxes when you only get the benefit of one,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters after Rauner&rsquo;s speech.</p><p>Rauner didn&rsquo;t seem open to fixing that issue, as he says, &ldquo;folks outside of Chicago see Chicago getting its own special deal; receiving over half-a-billion dollars every year in net extra funding compared to the rest of the state school district.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Other news from Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting:</span></p><p>This was the final meeting of the current City Council, a time when members say goodbye to retiring aldermen, or those who lost their races for reelection. They also cast votes on any old business that aldermen want resolved before the next class begins its term. If you need a refresher on the list of aldermen who won&rsquo;t be returning next term, listen to this:</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204071490&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Aldermen also put their final stamp on an unprecedented $5.5 million reparations package for victims of torture under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge. Sponsoring Alderman Proco Joe Moreno read the names of victims who were in the City Council audience, drawing attention to what he called a historic day &ldquo;for Chicago, for this City Council and most importantly, for the victims of some horrific behavior that happened right here in Chicago--not Iraq, not Syria.&rdquo;</p><p>Attorneys for alleged Burge victims say their next step is working on the cases of 20 or so others who are still incarcerated.</p><p>Aldermen also signed off on some minor changes to the city&rsquo;s controversial red light camera program, including: requiring public community meetings before cameras are removed, moved or added; accelerating installation of pedestrian countdown timers on existing cameras; and adding a payment plan for motorists with &ldquo;financial hardship.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s City Politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 06 May 2015 18:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-pitches-turnaround-agenda-chicago-aldermen-111997 Sheriff Dart to investigate unlicensed rehab centers http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pr follow.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is vowing to investigate whether unlicensed rehab centers in Chicago are breaking any criminal laws.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">As WBEZ recently reported</a>, some of the people who end up at these unlicensed residences are heroin addicts who are sent to Chicago from Puerto Rico. &nbsp;They are told to expect well-appointed treatment centers with nurses and pools. Instead they often wind up in rundown residences, and when they don&rsquo;t get the care they need, some of them end up homeless or in jail.</p><p>Dart said he was disgusted to learn of the practice.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no one in good conscience on the other end, in Puerto Rico, who could say they&rsquo;re doing anything other than dumping hapless people in a foreign country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;These folks are being misled at best &hellip; and the places they&rsquo;re being steered to, you wouldn&rsquo;t send anybody to in good conscience.&rdquo;</p><p>At least two people mentioned in WBEZ&rsquo;s recent story wound up in Cook County Jail.</p><p>Dart said one of the men, who used the alias Manuel, spent 50 days in the jail, for a cost to taxpayers of more than $7,000.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s expensive because once they find there&rsquo;s no services here, it&rsquo;s not as if they just hop back on the plane, no they&rsquo;re-one way tickets. And it&rsquo;s not as if they can go to plan B, there was no plan B. For many of them there&rsquo;s no family around either, so what&rsquo;s going to happen, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our hospitals, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our jails,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>While Dart saved his strongest words for those responsible in Puerto Rico, he also said local agencies need to step in.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine there are not some criminal violations that are involved if you purport to be something that you&rsquo;re not and you end up harming people as a result of that,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re pushing our lawyers that we have in our office to see what it is that we can do.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it">This American Life: Not It!</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>He also thinks other local agencies could do more.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand we are under all sorts of cuts throughout the state and the city and so on, but I thought at a minimum we would be having some cursory analysis of the different types of entities that put themselves out as treatment facilities,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>But the state and the city both say they aren&rsquo;t responsible.</p><p>Chicago mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said the city&rsquo;s health department looked into the story and determined that it was a state issue, because the state&rsquo;s Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse is responsible for licensing treatment centers.</p><p>But the director of that department, Theodora Binion, said her department doesn&rsquo;t get involved until someone applies for a license.</p><p>&ldquo;The city has jurisdiction over the actual buildings, what can happen in a building,&rdquo; Binion told WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/sets/morning-shift-april-23-2015">Morning Shift</a>. &ldquo;Zoning is not our area, nor is the building itself&hellip;. That would come from the city.&rdquo;</p><br /><p>But she said they are &ldquo;hoping to identify&rdquo; the people coming from Puerto Rico so as to help them get proper treatment.</p><p>&ldquo;Even though our jurisdiction &hellip; is fairly limited, we can talk to the people that are there and give them information about how they can get legitimate help,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Some of these residences are in Ald. Scott Waguespack&rsquo;s 32nd Ward.</p><p>Waguespack said such unlicensed, unofficial residences exist in a sort of legal gray area between the city and state. Still, he said the city should be doing more to make sure these places are up to snuff.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty amazing that [the city] would try and push it off on the state,&rdquo; Waguespack said.</p><p>Waguespack said he will look at what is already in the zoning code for ways to &ldquo;rein in these businesses so they can&rsquo;t operate above the law.&rdquo; He also said he would explore ways the city could help the people being sent from Puerto Rico.</p><p>Waguespack also called on state officials to draft a law or policy that allowed Illinois government to regulate the centers.</p><p>While most officials said there is more the city or state could be doing to help, they were especially critical of the government of Puerto Rico for allowing - or even sanctioning - the practice.</p><p>Dart said they were an example &ldquo;of people at their absolute worst.&rdquo;</p><p>In a recent <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it?act=1">interview on This American Life</a>, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla acknowledged his state was giving heroin addicts one-way tickets to Chicago. But he insisted the addicts were getting good treatment here.</p><p>Since it has been revealed that often isn&rsquo;t the case, Padilla thus far has refused to do another &nbsp;interview explaining what he plans to do now.</p><p><em>Adriana Cardona-Maguigad contributed to this story. Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 CPS Board president says Chicago schools under investigation http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-president-says-chicago-schools-under-investigation-111884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BoardOfEd1_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Officials with the nation&#39;s third-largest school district say federal authorities are &quot;investigating a matter&quot; at Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>In a statement released Wednesday, Chicago Board of Education president David Vitale says federal authorities requested interviews with several employees. He says the board was made aware of the investigation on Tuesday and is cooperating fully.</p><p>He did not offer details on the investigation. A spokesman for Chicago Public Schools didn&#39;t return a request for comment Wednesday.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Wednesday that he didn&#39;t have further details. He says there isn&#39;t information yet on who&#39;s the target of the probe.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-president-says-chicago-schools-under-investigation-111884